FIFA officials again subject of pre-dawn raids

ZURICH (AP) — Swiss authorities have conducted another series of pre-dawn raids and arrests as part of investigations into corruption in international soccer.

The New York Times, citing law enforcement officials, first reported that at least some of the arrests took place at the same luxury hotel where FIFA officials were arrested in May in early morning raids that rocked the sport.

The report said Swiss police entered the hotel, the Baur au Lac, through a side door at 6 a.m. A hotel manager told visitors in the lobby they had to leave the property because of “an extreme situation.”

At 6:40 a.m. local time, a hotel staff member said the raids were over “and it’s now locked the gates.”

Authorities in Switzerland, where FIFA has its headquarters, and in the U.S. are investigating current and former senior soccer officials on charges that include racketeering, money laundering and fraud.

FIFA’s executive committee was scheduled to hold meetings Thursday to discuss reforms. The sport’s governing body acknowledged the latest raids in a brief statement sent by e-mail to The Associated Press.

“FIFA became aware of the actions taken today by the U.S. Department of Justice. FIFA will continue to cooperate fully with the U.S. investigation as permitted by Swiss law, as well as with the investigation being led by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General,” the statement said. “FIFA will have no further comment on today’s developments.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, head of the European football federation, are currently serving 90-day suspensions amid FIFA ethics investigations involving $2 million of FIFA money Blatter approved for Platini in 2011 as backdated salary.

Both deny wrongdoing and say they had a verbal contract to pay Platini for work as Blatter’s presidential adviser from 1998-2002.

The last six months have been the most turbulent period of Blatter’s 17-year reign as FIFA president.

Blatter was re-elected as FIFA president on May 29, three days after a raid in Zurich by Swiss police resulted in seven officials being arrested and criminal proceedings being opened regarding “systematic and deep-rooted” corruption in soccer.

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